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Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2002 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Joel C. Rosenberg

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What is the "Bush Bounce?" | Keep a close eye on where President Bush and Vice President Cheney travel over the next several days.

Why? Because their itinerary offers fascinating clues as to where Karl Rove and other top GOP strategists believe their team is vulnerable, and where they see opportunities.

Democrat National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe says "the Republicans are scared. Why else would they put President Bush on the road for the last two weeks of the campaign. By engaging in this campaign full throttle, George Bush is making these elections about himself and inviting a debate about his own abysmal economic record."

But there may be another reason the President is hitting the campaign trail.

White House aides are buzzing about what they call the "Bush Bounce" -- the idea that wherever the popular President campaigns, GOP candidates immediately gain several points in the polls.

If true, the "Bush Bounce" could end up helping the GOP not only hold control of the House, but actually win back control of the Senate.

Example: Last Friday, Colorado Democrat trial lawyer Tom Strickland was slightly ahead of GOP Sen. Wayne Allard, 39% to 38%, according to a Rocky Mountain News daily tracking poll.

But by Tuesday, Allard had pulled ahead of Strickland, 43% to 39%.

What happened? On Monday, President Bush campaigned in Colorado with Allard.

Will the "Bush Bounce" hold until election day, giving candidates like Allard -- arguably the most endangered of all Republican Senators -- the final momentum they need to break out of dead heats and secure final victories?

That, of course, remains to be seen. But a careful look at the Bush-Cheney schedule gleaned from White House and news sources (and subject to change on a moment's notice) suggests where Rove and other GOP strategists think the "Bush Bounce" will also work.


President Bush is expected to speak at campaign rallies in:

  • Southeastern Indiana for GOP congressional candidate Mike Sodrel, trying unseat Democrat Rep. Baron Hill.

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for embattled GOP Congressman George Gekas in a fight for his political life against Democrat Rep. Tim Holden.

  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire for GOP Senate candidate John Sununu, in a neck-and-neck battle against Democrat Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. The President's last campaign visit to New Hampshire was October 5.

  • Louisville, Kentucky for endangered GOP Congresswoman Anne Northup

  • The President will return to Washington, D.C. that evening.

  • Vice President Cheney, meanwhile, heads to South Dakota to campaign with GOP Senate candidate John Thune.

  • VP Cheney will also head to Indiana for GOP Congressional candidate Brose McVey, trying to unseat Democrat Rep. Julia Carson.


President Bush is expected to speak at campaign rallies in:

  • Springfield, Illinois for GOP Rep. John Shimkus in a knock-down-drag-out battle with Democrat Rep. David Phelps.

  • Blountville, Tennessee for GOP Senate candidate Lamar Alexander -- who's 19 point lead over Democrat Rep. Bob Clement has been cut to just 10 points (50% to 40%), and Republican gubenatorial candidate Van Hilleary who's in an even tighter race against former Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen. Republicans badly want the governorship in part to make sure Al Gore cannot reestablish his political base there. Bush carried Gore's home state in 2000.

  • Atlanta, Georgia and then Savannah, Georgia for rising GOP Senate candidate Saxby Chambliss. These two campaign stops are a clear sign the Bush team believes they have a real shot at defeating Democrat Sen. Max Cleland who has been steadily slipping in the polls over the past two weeks. This column first reported the rapidly changing GOP fortunes in Georgia earlier this week. Bush won the state in 2000 with 55% of the vote. Bush's last visit to the state for Chambliss on October 17th is believed to have caused a "Bush Bounce" and persuaded Karl Rove to send the President back in one more time.

  • Tampa, Florida for embattled brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, in a brutally tight race with Democrat Bill McBride. The President will remain overnight in Tampa, Florida, further indication of the concern the Bush team has over a race DNC chief Terry McAuliffe says is the Democrats' "Number One priority." The good news for Republicans: a new Mason-Dixon poll shows Gov. Bush ahead of McBride, 51% to 43%. Still the Bush Team is taking no chances. First Mom Barbara Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain both campaigned (separately) in Florida on Wednesday.


  • President Bush is expected to head to Minnesota to campaign for GOP Senate candidate Norm Coleman, now believed to be trailing newly nominated Democrat candidate Walter Mondale.


  • Campaign schedules unknown.

  • First Lady Laura Bush celebrates her birthday.


  • President George W. Bush and Laura celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.

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JWR contributor Joel C. Rosenberg is a columnist for World magazine. Comment by clicking here.


10/03/02: Lautenberg's radical record is a GOP challenger's dream!
01/10/01: The multi-million dollar black conservative professor
12/13/01: PREDICTIONS 2002

© 2001, Joel C. Rosenberg